By Mark Greenleaf

“BERNIE!!!” I yelled, as I lounged in the back of the van. I had just finished the long walk back down to the parking lot from the finish line a short time prior, passing Dino on the way as he headed for the finish. Just in time, I should add, as the weather had turned on a dime. They refer to it as unpredictable, and they are right. It was clear and calm from start to finish for my 7.6 mile run of the 2008 Mt. Washington Hillclimb bicycle race. Things took a turn for the worse, though, just as I met our driver, Joe, at the finish line. The rear door of the van opened up for a great view of the racers as they headed for the finish. Soon the hail was so fierce, however, that I had to close the door and peer out through the fogged glass as I wiped it with a towel. My run was uneventful; the weather almost too good to play any factor. Bernie would have the bragging rights this year. Joe and he were soaked from the rain and were pelted by the hail. Adding insult to injury, lightning lit up the sky. As I sat there watching the remaining racers conquer the summit, I thought back to prior years. This was the twenty fifth consecutive year that I had entered this race. I am always quick to qualify that for three of those years the weather had resulted in cancellation; last year my car went up, but I didn’t. One other year, the race was shortened to half the usual length. That leaves twenty one years that I have completed the race; twenty one years of varying weather, training, sponsors, race companions, and stories. My only remaining pre-marriage tradition, I tell anyone who will listen. That got me thinking about the early years…

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The Ride – Photos by Carol Bult

From Carol Bult: Hi Mary,

I can’t even begin to tell you how special this summer has been for me in terms of cycling up Mt. Washington. Last year I was part of Lili’s support team and had never even thought about riding up the rockpile. But Lili is quite an inspiration and an awesome coach and she worked with me all last winter and spring to get me ready. Sometimes I can’t even believe I was able to make it up the mountain four times this summer! Every ride was different and special in its own way. And equally as memorable was meeting cyclists from all over and experiencing the support and encouragement of other riders and volunteers and Mt. Washington event staff. I’m still amazed (and very thankful!) that you and your staff would get up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning for the practice rides and the make up rides. I hope everyone there knows how much it is appreciated!

Here is the link to the photos and Lili and I took on September 1. Let me know if you have any problems with it.

Link to Photos

See you next year, Mary!



2007 Race Report- by Todd Brown

The 2007 MW race was cancelled Aug 18th due to summit winds of 55 mph with gusts to 94 mph and 32 degree temps. Fortunately, the race organizers rescheduled the ride for today, Sept 1. The winds on the summit have been unusually mild for the last week giving great hope to those of us looking to lower our PR’s (1:10.51) on the Rockpile.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature obviously has been conspiring with the Mountain and the wind was expected to increase from 10-15mph Friday to 30-45mph for Saturday am:(

During a wonderful dinner in Gorham Friday night, 5 of us Rockpilers enjoyed piles of pasta while getting Blackberry wind updates from the Mount Washington Observatory.

While ordering dinner the sustained winds were 21 mph, appetizers 24 mph, check please….29 mph!! The worry was that if winds were in excessive of 30 mph, any thoughts of setting PR’s would be history. Morning wakeup at 4:30am and right to The Weather Channel…39 mph…arrrrgghhhh! By the time we left the hotel an hour later…43 mph…with gusts over 50 and summit temp of 35 degrees…forget about PR’s…are we even going to be able to climb the mountain?

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Mt. Washington Race, At The Top I’ve always wondered, what was the attraction, the call, of riding up Mt. Washington . I had seen my brother, my brother in law , repeatedly do the suffering and training that was required to prepare you for the climb, and wonder what is it that requires you to give up so much time doing a specific type of hard effort, taking away time that could be spent on other, more enjoyable types of riding, or racing. After awhile, and with much prodding, I began to consider, then train, for a climb that had intimidated me for many years. I did my first climb in 2004, alongside my brother in law, with my sister waiting at the top. It truly was an exciting day, the wet weather couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm. There was a feeling of camaraderie with all the people, highly motivated to do the climb, all around me. There is genuine joy in seeing the face of someone you just met 2 hours ago, after they have completed the climb. It’s a fast way to make friends. After the race, however, I was ambivalent about the experience. I was proud of myself, but at the time I wasn’t itching to sign up for it again.

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One Racers View on the Toughest Hillclimb in the World

-This letter was sent by a racer to his friend in hopes to give an idea of what the race is like..

With the exception of the final 50 yards and a maybe a 40 yard section a mile out from the finish, I think the steepest continuous slopes are inside the first 2.5 mile of the climb. That’s not such bad news because those are the miles you will be at your freshest. That being said, the gradient isn’t static. There are long steep stretches 100 yards to say 1/3 of a mile long but then it will flatten out and let you breath for 20 yards or so before kicking up again. It’s very difficult to find a rhythm in here with all of the undulations. But just watch your HR and don’t go above that ceiling.

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Open letter to Competitors from Mike Pelchat, Park Manager

Mount Washington State Park is one of 72 park properties managed by the NH Division of Parks & Recreation. The Mount Washington Auto Road and Cog Railway are private enterprises that terminate at the 59 acre Mount Washington State Park. These businesses operate on private lands within the White Mountain National Forest. The concrete and glass Sherman Adams Summit Building is the center of park operations on the summit. Public areas within the building contains seating for 120 in a cafeteria style dining room, information desk, pay phones, weather museum, 12 seat hiker’s packroom, post office, restrooms, and Food Service/Gift Shop. The Food Service is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., weather permitting. Packaged snacks, basic beverages, and candy bars are available, with a limited selection of hot foods and sandwiches.

While competitors dominate the traffic of the Mt.Washington Auto Road on race day, the Sherman Adams Summit Building continues to provide shelter and services to riders of the Mt. Washington Cog Railway and hundreds of hikers at the same time. Race contestants and race spectators should remain respectful that they are sharing the summit facilities with these other visitors who also worked physically hard hiking or paid their fare to reach the summit.

Due to the limited amount of space in the summit building, competitors are strongly urged to make their visit into the summit building as short as possible. With good pre-planning by every competitor, race day on the summit should be a rewarding experience for everyone. To help ease the congestion in the Summit Building, please observe the following suggestions:

1) Meet your ride and retrieve clothing supplies in one of the three auto road summit parking lots. Arrange a rendezvous location before leaving the base, with a back-up meeting location plan.

2) Use the provided outdoor porta toilets.

3) Leave your bike in the “Bike Corral” if visiting the summit building. No bikes allowed in the summit building. Volunteers will be on hand to help.

4) Keep clear of all building exits and doorways.

5) If needed, see any race official (in pink vests) to locate volunteer first aid help.

6) Limit your stay within the summit building to 30 minutes or less.

NOTE: When the number of visitors in the summit building has reached its maximum 250 person capacity, park staff will only allow people to enter as others leave. If the weather is cool, windy or stormy, the impact that race competitors have on the limited summit facilities is much greater than on mild weather days. Proper pre-planning along with excellent physical conditioning will go a long way towards having a wonderful racing experience on Mount Washington no matter what the weather.

Good Luck with Your `Run’ and ‘Bike Race’!

For more information, please contact: Mike Pelchat, Manager, by mail at: MWSP, PO Box D, Gorham, NH 03581; by telephone at 603-466-3347, or by e-mail at

Racer’s Letters-Mike Tierney


This letter is written to send you all a BIG HIGH FIVE for the fantastic Hillclimb event that I participated in last weekend. I was one of the three unicyclists that entered this year, and I want to personally thank all of you for the sincere respect that we were treated to. It was truly an honor to participate in such a legendary race.

I have to say that the whole event was done with noticeable professionalism and with precise organization. My travel from Colorado together with being in a unfamiliar setting, could have made for some uncomfortable moments for me, but from the moment I drove up to the auto road and saw the tents, start banner, etc, I had a profound feeling inside that put me at ease. The registration was easy and smooth sailing, the pre-race organization was simple, and the personal attention at the finish line had a nice touch to it; a nice warm blanket handed out by fellow EMT’s. Lunch was awesome, and the awards went well. It is hard to go through all of those categories and still make it fun; the MC was very funny and entertaining. As well, he knew the sport and the participants, which helped me, stay focused and entertained.

I know that the unicycle division was somewhat new for you this year. Plus, there were three of us and I don’t think all three of us signed up as unicyclist. That most likely led to the confusion for the podium session for us. With that said, being able to stand on top of the podium was a lifelong dream of mine. To not only win, at age 45, but also to break the old record by almost 34 minutes is something that I will never forget. Thank you for recognizing the unicyclist, I appreciate it!

Thank you all, I know that it must take hundreds of volunteers, for the excellent job you all performed at this year’s 33 rd Mt. Washington Bicycle Hillclimb. I am grateful to have entered and been part of such an Epic event. I look forward to next year’s race, and seeing all of you again. It showed that you all really love what you do for this race, thanks again.

Mike Tierney President Aspen Solar Inc. Aspen , Colorado New Record holder for Unicyclist 1:45min 2005′